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Thirty Years of Throwback ~ 2012-2015

June 18, 2016
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Mer n’ Chip’s Wedding

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The brief engagement of Keith n’ Jess!

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Becoming a family unit!

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The Fine Lookin’ Sanders Gang- Mom and Dad turned 50!



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2013 makes me miss my long hair!

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Five Iron Frenzy Reunited!

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Keith n’ Jess actually got to go on dates this year!

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Adry still thought I was cool!



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Dancing in Bicentennial Park

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Being enormously pregnant with Ella Bella…

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…at the same time as Jamie!

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Game Night Girls


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First year as a Family of Four!

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Baby’s First Halloween

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Mommy-Daughter Times

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The Sanders Sibs- perpetually children reprimanded by Mom!


I’ve had an enormously rich and blessed 30+ years of life!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Thirty Years of Throwback ~ 2006-2008

January 10, 2016
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The year I graduated from college!

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All I want to know is where Little J’s paisley shirt from this photo ended up! Also, throwback to the 2000’s “scene kid”, perfectly embodied by T.Matt!

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This gem is a wonderful throwback to FLIP PHONES and T9 texting! (One day I will tell my kids, in my day we texted on a 9-key number pad, imagine that! And my kids will be like, what is a 9-key number pad?) And also: throwback to our St. Patrick’s Day Mexican Fiesta as well as plastic beaded necklaces and that little ranch house on Scioto Darby Road!

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Getting excited about Mom’s meatloaf was, is, and always will be. Having to put our coke in fancy glasses at the dinner table? Another thing that will never change!

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The year I got my tattoo! Which I still absolutely love. I can’t bring myself to get another for fear I won’t love it as much as I love this one.

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Pregnant with Adry!  The year Jamie was vicariously pregnant through me!

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A cute little first-time-pregnant baby bump. Flashback to two-toned hair dye!



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Throwback to being HUGE and pregnant with TWO FULL months to go!

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My very first moment of being a mother- the very first moment I saw Adry- the moment that changed my life forever- the best moment of my life!

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Baby Adry in the bassinet Jamie got for him, the same bassinet Ella slept in.

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The year of many, many game nights with the original husbands

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Throwback to Adry and Reese as Aang The Last Airbender and Appa The Sky Bison

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART II)

November 25, 2014
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WARNING: THIS IS A GRAPHIC POST. Just a little blood on a JUST BORN baby and personal details about my experience.

I was able to choose three people to be in the delivery room with me for Ella’s birth. I chose Keithy, Mom, and Keith’s mom, Sherry. Once labor got intense it was those three who made a fantastic labor team and got me through.

Keith held my hand and let me know when contractions peaked and were going down. Mom held my other hand and coached my breathing and concentration and control. Sherry chose and held my focus picture: a little pretty baby girl.

I’m really not sure how long that went on. Medication wasn’t putting a dent in the pain- I didn’t feel a difference at all. Things were getting progressively worse and I asked for something stronger. Before Anesthesiologist had a chance to help me out, the nurse checked and I was at a 10. I couldn’t tell you how long it took to go from 7 to 10, but it seemed way fast and unexpected. Nurse and Doc prepped for delivery and told Anesthesiologist not to bother with the meds because it was baby time. My inner-self was slow-mo reaching out and screaming NNNOOOO! GIVE ME THE DRUUUGSS, but instead I was terrified and stammered, “I’ve never pushed through all this pain before!”

Nurse and Doc assured me, “Oh, you can do it,” and in no time at all they had me prepped and in position and were telling me when and how to push.

Holy. $#!!&*%$#. I must admit: it was the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life. Eleanor was still high inside of me so Dr. T began pushing and pulling and manipulating and helping her along. Don’t get me wrong- I am so so thankful he did that because I only had to push a few times, but it hurt so badly that my impulse was to kick him and scream GET AWAY FROM ME in my growliest voice. (I didn’t!) Instead I think I yelled out OW or just yelled out in general a couple of times. I don’t entirely remember everything because it got to the point that it was so painful my mind went to another place. I DO remember feeling her moving down. I remember feeling her crown. I could feel her head trying to come through. It literally felt like trying to poop a bowling ball through my vagina while my abdomen muscles were on fire. Intense pressure and sharp pain and tearing pain and throbbing pain all at once. Once the head was through I felt her shoulders which also hurt. Sharper pain, less pressure. Once the shoulders were out I felt the rest of her squirming, wriggling body come through. That’s the part I hope I always remember. It was so so cool. I can’t really describe it except by saying it made everything totally worth it.  She was out! She was finally here! My Ella!





She came at 2:40PM after about 7 hours of labor. Keithy cut the cord and they put her on my chest.


I remember those few moments after birth being very overwhelming. I still felt in shock from the pain, drained from the physical labor, and weak and shaky from not eating. (I immediately asked for a hamburger from Wendy’s haha.) I also felt hugely relieved that it was over, totally excited that my daughter was finally in my arms, and completely passionately in love.






Keithy was a proud, excited new daddy!


We promised Adry he could be the first in to see her when she was born.


He didn’t say anything for the longest time. He just sat and stared at her with the biggest grin on his face behind his mask. I finally asked, “What do you think of her, Adry?”

After a pause he said, “…She’s awesome!”



I would say it was love at first sight, but he loved her before he saw her.

Then the grandpas got to see her.







She weighed 8’10”, 21 1/2 inches long… although they measured her again at her family doc’s office and they got 22 and 1/4 inches long!

…To Be Continued


Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

The Birth Story of Miss Eleanor Joyce (PART I)

November 23, 2014
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It was an eventful and anxious few days leading up to Ella’s birthday.
I’d gone to see Dr. T and we came to a mutual decision to move my induction day up for ‘better safe than sorry’ reasons.
I’d wanted so badly to go into labor naturally… not only because I was convinced it was healthier, but I also wanted that organic experience; I wanted the thrill of having to time contractions at home and contacting everyone to surprise them with ‘IT’S BABY TIME!’ news.
But alas, my induction was scheduled for 40weeks2days.
I dared my body to go into labor before then.


Ella pushing her butt up. It was crazy looking!

Ella pushing her butt up. It was crazy looking!

Labor never came. What we WERE surprised with instead was a scary diagnosis for Adry. I’d taken him to the doctor a few times for a persistent cough and swabs came up with nothing. Finally, as a precaution since my son is fully vaccinated, one of the doctors did a pertussis swab and put him on a Z-pak. THANK GOD she did, because it came back positive. *Freak Out Freak Out* I was about to give birth to a brand new human with a brand new immune system and my 6-year-old son had just been diagnosed with freaking whooping cough. That totally stressed me out, so to help me feel better we got out markers and crayons and stickers and had ourselves a surgical mask decorating party a few nights before Ella came.


I woke up at 3AM on November 4th to prepare for my 4:30AM induction.

I was thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong and I was so nervous!

When it was time to leave for the hospital I woke Adry up to take him with us in his PJs and a pillow in tow. I naively thought he’d be so tired he’d nap while we were there. Hah. As soon as I tapped him on the shoulder he sprung out of bed and exclaimed, “IT’S TODAY! ELLA IS COMING TODAY!” It’s the day he’d been waiting for and dreaming about for nearly 1/6th of his life. This was an infinitely more exciting day for him than Christmas was or will ever be.

We got to the hospital. I was a ball of nerves. My stomach was churning. Why should I be so nervous, I thought. I’ve done this before. Oh, that’s probably why I’m so nervous- because I HAVE done this before.

They took me back to my room.

I undressed and put my hospital gown on.

I went to the bathroom and I could hear the woman in the room beside me through the walls. She was screaming in agony at the top of her lungs, “NO! NO! AAAAAH NO GOD PLEASE NOOOO AAAAH.”

Holy crap, what have I gotten myself into. Is there an undo?

And then I anxiously awaited my pitocin IV, which, I must say was probably the worst part of my whole experience.

Nurse #1 tried and dug couple of times. Float nurse tried and dug a couple of times. Got one in. Needle was too small. Had to remove it and try again. Anesthesiologist came up and looked at my veins and said, “well if they can’t get it I’ll get one in for you!” Ultrasound guy came up and gave me a shot of lidocaine and finally got a successful IV with the right gauge needle. By the time that was all over I had huge bruises and was in a lot of pain in both arms, and the damn IV hurt the whole time. Me and my veins are the worst with blood draws and IVs. The. Worst.

While we waited for the pitocin drip Mom gave me this pretty barrette to hold my hair back with during labor.


And Keithy also gave me a couple of gifts.


I have several lockets with pictures and charms and dried flower pedals that represent Adry and my memories with him, so Keithy got me this pretty little gold locket for Eleanor. He had her name engraved on it.


And he also got this little jewelry box to keep it in, and had that engraved as well.



I LOVED my gifts. SO much. And they were a great distraction as well.





Then came the pitocin and contractions.


Obviously not that bad at first.

Tori and Adry in the waiting room during my labor

Tori and Adry in the waiting room during my labor

Before too long I was feeling it a little.


At first I was very unsure about getting an epidural. I’d had a poor epidural experience with Adry- it was positional and I only felt the effects in my upper abdomen and the pain relief didn’t kick in ’til Adry moved and it was time to push and they had pumped so much medication in me I couldn’t feel a thing in order to push, yadda yadda that kind of thing. But I’d heard these lovely stories of ladies getting their epidurals and having such comfortable labor and delivery experiences… plus the anesthesiologist had a little chat with me and convinced me to give it another try. So before the contractions got too intense I decided just to get the whole needle in my back thing over with.

They kicked everyone out but Keithy. Just me n’ him. They had him put my hair net on for the little procedure. He stumbled around and put it on my face “on accident” and made me giggle. The nurse said, “Aw, at least you have someone who can make you laugh at a time like this.”  I was nervous and for some reason I was uncontrollably shaking all over. But after a sting here, a pinch there, and the oddest uncomfortable sensation when they put the catheter in, it was done. They pumped me up with magic medication and for the next several hours I had the most wonderful labor. I was numb, but not too numb; I could feel the contractions come and go but I wasn’t in any discomfort. It was amazing. I thought I was going to have the easiest labor ever.

And then the medicine wore off.


I had mistakenly made the decision to wait until I was in enough discomfort to warrant another dose of epidural medication. Gravely gravely mistaken. I let it go too long and by the time I called the anesthesiologist in for more pain medication it couldn’t keep up with the intense and quickly progressing labor. And that’s when I was so so thankful for my labor partners!

…To Be Continued




Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Ella Belly 8 MONTHS (and some of her things)

October 7, 2014
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8 Months Pregnant with Adry:
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I’m in my ninth month!

Today I am 36Weeks.2Days pregnant.

I begin my weekly OB visits on Thursday to check on position and progress.

Yes, it’s the final countdown!

How am I feeling? Oh, I remember several months ago when I wanted Eleanor to stay in my belly ’til she was due… I thought I wouldn’t even mind if she was a little late because it worked out better financially and with work FMLA or some crap. …Yeah, well that’s bullshit. She needs to come now. Like yesterday.

Commence Le Whines:

I don’t think misery is an exaggeration. I cannot breath. I cannot sleep. I cannot digest. My sinuses have been stuffed and burning for weeks. My throat is therefore torn up from snoring. My toes are bubbly from pockets of fluid- I can’t wear any of my shoes. I get serious cankles and my fingers look like sausages. I have no abdominal muscles to help me lie down, stand, or sit, and I’m sore from carrying a bowling ball in my tummy. The entire floor of my pelvis feels bruised- there are bones that crack that I didn’t know could crack!- and nerves in my back and hips are pinched so every single little movement is painful. At times extremely painful. None of my maternity clothes fit. I walk around public holding my shirt down so that my belly button won’t pop out to say ‘hello’ to the world. Oh, and I’ve developed Chloasma, “the mask of pregnancy”. My skin is now discolored on my cheekbones below my eyes and above my lips. Thank you, hormones, for that lovely gift.

I swear I will gut punch the next woman who tells me that pregnancy is a gift and that I should cherish this time. I will smack her in the face when she says, “Oh, you think pregnancy is hard- you just wait for a newborn!”

(I do think pregnancy is a gift, by the way. I’m not trying to take for granted that my body has the ability to reproduce life and bring it into this world. I count my blessings every day. But I’m also very thankful for my immune system and have yet to cherish my time spent fevering with swollen lymph nodes, ya’ know what I’m sayin’?)

Commence Le Praise:

I AM SO EXCITED TO MEET MY DAUGHTER. I love her so much. My family loves her so much. I want her in my arms. Our i’s are dotted, our t’s are crossed and we are ready!

Eleanor’s Corner of the World:

For the time being Eleanor and Adry are sharing a room. Maybe for the next 5 months, maybe for the next year and 5 months depending on how much time I can suck out of this apartment (and I’m hoping as much time as possible- I’m in no hurry to leave our snug little abode). So we’ve been minimalists with our baby gear.

My favorite things of hers:

(Not great pictures of everything. Sorry.)
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Eleanor’s Great Grandma Dee made her the stunning wall hanging animal quilt.
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And she also made her the beautiful pink blanket draped on the side rail that she can cozy up with. It’s doubly awesome because she spelled out her full name in the stitching! ‘Eleanor’, ‘Joyce’, and ‘Martin’! I love it.
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In our bedroom Ella has the bassinet that Adry slept in.
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Draped on the side is the blanket Uncle Matt and Aunt Alexz made for her, and I just fell in love with the colors and patterns they chose.
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Those are elephants on the print if you can’t tell! So perfect.

Also, I have her first outfit chosen and packed in the hospital bag! The good camera is ready. We can’t wait we can’t wait!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

Eleanor Joyce- Maternity Photos

September 29, 2014
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A week or so ago we spent the duration of the sunset hour at the Ohio School for the Deaf Topiary Park to snap some big belly maternity photos.

I was originally proud that I had narrowed it down to my 85 favorites, but Dad convinced me that 85 was a bit excessive, so I almost halved it. You’re welcome, internet.

Also, Adry did his own thing. He was NOT into posing that day. He joined in when and if he wanted to, and otherwise ran around and played. Any cute pictures we got with him were candid and pure luck, haha. But some of the ones where he is randomly doing his own pose (like standing on the table), or where he ends up in the background, make me smile!

So here you go. Forty-something photos of random six-year-old, baby belly, stretch marks, and swollen hands :-):

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Adry’s legs beside us! Haha! Cracks me up.

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Prancing Adry

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Dad wanted in the pictures! That’s his hand shadow on my belly.

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My dad thought this plaque was perfect for our shoot.

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

A Shower for Ella Bella Part II

September 26, 2014
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Weeks before the shower my mom had Keith make a list of 23 things about having a daughter that he was excited for, and 1 message to me. She cut the list into strips and taped each of the 23 things to a pink rose, and taped the message to me on a single red rose. She put the roses in centerpiece vases on the tables and during the shower I walked around and read them. It was the sweetest thing.

What Daddy is Excited About:

1) Eleanor, I cannot wait to hold you in my arms. Your mom has carried you enough and I want my turn.

2) Eleanor, I am so excited to see your smile and hear your laugh.

3) Eleanor, I look forward to holding your hands and seeing you learn how to walk.

4) Baby Eleanor, I can’t wait for the day that you learn to say mama and dada.

5) Eleanor, I am so excited to take you out and show you off to the whole world.

6) I am already planning father-daughter dates. Don’t judge me.

7) I can’t wait to watch you grow up and see which of us you look like. I hope it’s your mom.

8) I am excited to see what your interests and passions are.

9) I am beyond excited to see the friendship that you’ll have with your big brother. You haven’t met him yet but he is the awesomest big brother you could ever want to have.

10) Dearest Daughter, I can’t wait for you to meet your grandparents. Be warned, though, they will spoil you silly.

11) Eleanor, I’m excited to take you to your first day of school, even though it means you’ll be growing up.

12) Dear Eleanor, I can’t wait to see the color of your eyes.

13) Daughter, I can’t wait to teach you how to ride a bike, and feel proud when we take the training wheels off.

14) Eleanor, I’m excited to see what your favorite bedtime books are even though I’ll probably get sick of reading them.

15) Dear Daughter, I can’t wait to teach you how to swim.

16) Dearest Eleanor, while it’s true that Mommy runs the bank in our house, I promise to sneak off with the credit card as often as possible to get you whatever you want. (Jessica, please don’t murder me to death.)

17) Eleanor, I’m excited and terrified in equal measures to see you make your own fashion choices. Please, for my sanity, make wise choices, or at least don’t let me see the bad ones.

18) Dear Daughter, I can’t wait to take you to the zoo so you can choose your favorite animal.

19) Dearest Eleanor, your daddy is old and his imagination doesn’t work so well anymore, but I look forward to our tea parties.

20) My dearest daughter, I can’t wait to see the relationship you build with your mom, and the bonds you’ll create with her as you grow up.

21) Eleanor, I can’t wait for the day that you can understand the words “I love you”.

22) Dear Daughter, I can’t honestly day I’m looking forward to you dating, but I swear that I will be a shoulder to cry on and a bringer of ice cream when some damn fool breaks your heart.

23) Eleanor, I can’t wait to see you take your first breath and take you home.

24) Dear Jessica, I used to think my life couldn’t get any better. Thank you so much for proving me wrong and giving me the greatest gift of my life. I am so excited to meet my daughter and add her to our awesome family. I love you.

Group Photos At The End Of The Shower:

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Keith’s mom, my mom, and I got to share a special moment. While we were standing there together I asked Sherry if she would join Mom, me, and Keith in the birthing room to be my third labor partner and witness Ella’s delivery. She was so happy!
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Jamie was standing nearby and said, “I will pass the trash can to Sherry!”
Jamie was my third labor partner for Adry and she spent a large chunk of that time holding the trash can for me while I puked! It was a glamorous job and she did it well! I will miss her, but I know it will mean the world to Sherry to be there with her son for the birth of her granddaughter.
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Thank you, Mom, for the very lovely baby shower!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal

A Shower for Ella Bella Part I

September 23, 2014
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On September sixth my mom, Keith’s mom, Les, Pam, and a few of their friends put together the most darling baby girl shower for Keith, Ella, and me.

They invited a comfortable, intimate group to meet in the basement of Keith’s parents’ church (Grace Church in Powell).
Sherry made her smash hit cupcakes and whoever came closest to guessing the number of pink popped corn won a prize!
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Melon Baby “Eleanor” Made By Sherry
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Baby Shoe Filled with Kisses Shower Favor

I took some photos of the setup before anyone got there:
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It was a taco bar!
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Name Tags and Address-Your-Own Thank You Cards! Haha
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Mom had also set up a corner with a TV that played the DVD of Eleanor’s 3D ultrasound.
As soon as it started playing Adry told me he needed to talk to me and pulled me to the side. He motioned for me to bend down to his level and I saw that tears were welling up in his eyes and spilling over: he was legitimately crying! I said, “Oh my gosh, what’s wrong, buddy!”
He said, “Mommy, the pictures of Ella are making me really sad.”
“Because they remind me that she’s not here yet and I can’t see her!”
I explained to Adry that the 3D images are supposed to be happy because she’s not ready to come out yet and we have the privilege of getting a preview of her before we even meet her!
He thought about that for a second and said, “You’re right. I guess these must be tears of joy!”
Aaaw, my Adry! He’s experiencing all the emotions of a new baby and his little 6-year-old self doesn’t quite know how to make sense of them!

More to come later!

Categories: Ciao Bella Vita : Daily Journal